Dario Prinčič – no ordinary Pinot Grigio

 Every week, I select an orange wine (a white wine made with extended skin contact) that grabbed my attention. View the whole series here.

Dario Prinčič - Pinot Grigio 2012Think Pinot Grigio, think insipid, water-white plonk? Think again. Here’s a 100% Pinot Grigio from Friuli Collio which confounds everything you ever knew about the variety. Dario Prinčič‘s version macerates on its skins for around eight days during fermentation. Have a look at the photo above. No photoshopping, rather an apt reminder that this is a pink-skinned grape variety and a clone of Pinot Noir to boot.

Prinčič is no bandwagon-jumper when it comes to producing wine like this. He’s been making “orange” wine since the late 1990s, having taken to it quickly after his neighbours Stanko Radikon and Josko Gravner repopularised the idea. Prinčič has long been a staunch believer in tradition, farming biodynamically since 1988, and going the low-intervention route in the winery – wild yeasts, no filtering or fining, no temperature control and little or no added sulphites.

His Pinot Grigio 2013 has a brooding brownish copper hue, its colour no less intense than the flavours inside the bottle. It would be troublesome to categorise as a white wine, and easy to palm off as a red. But let’s not be lazy. There is a category for this wine, and for good reason – it’s neither red, white nor rosé, but shows all the wonderful characteristics of an intense, extreme orange wine.

There’s a definite pungency to the nose, with autumnal, nutty, raisined aromas giving way to ripe, bountiful fruit, and a structure that reminds me of fresh, crunchy Northern Italian reds (think Barbera, Freisa or Bardolino). A slight “amaro” note really lifts the finish. There couldn’t be a better demonstration of what this style is all about – the freshness of a white wine, the guts and structure of a red.

Dario Prinčič - Photo courtesy Associazione Produttori Ribolla di Oslavia

Prinčič’s wines seem a bit like the man to me – rugged and earthy, packing a punch and brimming with integrity. There’s nothing earnest about them, they are made for good times, for drinking, for pure enjoyment.

Buy online from Wine bear for £29.67 or a little bit cheaper if you buy 6 or 12. The Trebez blend, Ribolla Gialla and Jakot from the same producer are also heartily recommended.


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    • Jeanne Horak

      Now that took me by surprise…! I am usually in the camp of ABPG (anything but Pinto Grigio) as it usually comes as a colourless, flavourless waste of a flass. But this looke intriguing. Love the colour and love your description of it having the freshness of a white and the gits & structure of a red!

      • Thanks! And yes this is definitely a shock to the system if you first look at the label and imagine you’ll be drinking a white wine. Easier to understand and enjoy if you start by thinking of it as a red.

    • MeetaK

      Pinot Grigo has goten a bad name and yes tasteless does come to mind. But I was surprised by the color and intrigued by the grapes macerate. Now I am keen to find this!

    • Seems expensive…. is it worth that premium?

      • No wine made by this method or in such small quantities is going to be cheap – far less so by the time it’s been imported to the UK.

        I do think Dario’s wines are exceptional examples in this style, so for me worth the price of admission. But if I had £30 to spend and I could only choose one of his wines, I’d go with the “Trebez” blend which is truly stunning. I didn’t review it here because it wasn’t the bottle I had in front of me last week – and I wanted to feature the Pinot Grigio because of its extraordinary colour.

    • Rosana McPhee

      I want to try ‘orange’ wines! I am intrigued, but a bit pricey…R

      • @rosanamcphee:disqus yes price is a barrier, wines made in these small quantities and with this method are never cheap – but there are some reasonably priced ones. I strongly recommend hunting down Cosimo Maria Masinis’s delicious “Daphne” from Dvine cellars on Landor Road (think it’s about £16), or go to Marks and Sparks who currently have this on their list: http://www.marksandspencer.com/bolfan-primus-pinot-gris-case-of-6/p/p60062895 for £14

        They seem to have stopped stocking the Tblvino Qvevri, which is a shame as that was a brilliant introduction to the style at a mere £8.99

        • Rosana McPhee

          Oh, Dvine on Landor Rd is near my house. I will pop down for a look. thanks Simon!

          • Let me know how you get on! It’s a great shop and they will probably have some other recommendations in a similar style.
            Say hello to Greg from me.